Will I Be Released On Bail?

A common concern of individuals charged with a criminal offence, is whether or not they will be released on bail.  This varies on a case by case basis, but most of our clients qualify to be released on bail.  A number of factors are taken into consideration when a judge decides on whether or not someone will be released on bail.  Usually factors such as an individual’s criminal record and plan of release are issues that determine bail.  While a judge determines bail, both the Crown attorney and the defence lawyers have the opportunity to argue either for or against bail.  The criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth work very hard to have clients released on favourable conditions.

In preparing to suggest bail to a judge, we meet with our client and speak with the police and the Crown attorney in order to secure our client’s release on bail.  We do our best to achieve the most favourable conditions for bail and to do so as quickly as possible.  We know that our clients are anxious to have a decision about bail made so we try to have bail decided as soon as possible.

Once an individual is granted bail, the court will stipulate certain conditions that the individual must comply with in order to remain released on bail.  Certain conditions are common, while others are determined based on the particular circumstances of your case.  If you are released on bail, the court will review your case and take into consideration arguments from the prosecution and the defence.  We will do our best to achieve the most favourable bail conditions possible.

If you are wondering if bail might be possible in your case, contact the defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.  They will be able to go over your case with you and see if you might be able to be released on bail.

What Is A Surety?

A surety is a person that knows the accused personally, is a friend or family member, who agrees to supervise the accused when they are released on bail.  The surety must present themselves at court and tell the court that they will be responsible for supervising the accused individual.  The role of the surety is to make sure that the accused complies with all of the conditions of their release.  They also ensure that the accused stays out of trouble while awaiting trial.

A surety plays an important role during the period in which an individual is released on bail.  The job of surety is not to be taken lightly, but should be regarded as important and serious.  The primary duties of a surety include making sure the accused attends their court dates and ensuring that the individual complies with all of their bail conditions.  Sureties are often required to provide a monetary amount for the release of an individual.  Sometimes the court requires a cash deposit, but most often a surety will sign a bond for a certain amount.

A surety should be someone who knows the accused well and is confident that they can adequately supervise the individual.  It is important that the surety maintain a close relationship involving frequent updates and visits with the accused to ensure that bail conditions and court dates are being met and attended.  If you are in a situation where you require a surety in order to be released on bail, you will likely discuss possible sureties with your lawyer.  In the end, the court will decide if a particular person will be able to act as a surety.  The court will take into account the details of the case, including the nature of the charges and the accused person’s criminal record.  The court will also consider the potential surety’s character and background, as well as their financial situation and the amount of time they have available to supervise the accused.

If you are wondering if you might be eligible for bail or how the process of getting a surety works, contact the lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth to obtain the legal advice you are looking for.

How Do I Know What My Bail Conditions Will Be?

Before the bail conditions are proposed in court, and before you are in a position to formally agree to anything, you will go over them with your lawyer.  The criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth make sure to thoroughly review the bail conditions with every client so that they understand what is being proposed and what they will be agreeing to.  It is important to know and understand the bail conditions that the Crown attorney has proposed.  This way, you will not be surprised when they are presented in court and you will understand what the Crown is proposing.

Once the Crown presents the bail conditions as they see fit, we will negotiate the most favourable conditions possible.  This negotiation between the Crown and the defence lawyers is important as it seeks to strike a balance between what the Crown thinks is appropriate and respecting your individual rights and freedoms.  The result is hopefully one that everyone agrees is fair and reasonable.  The lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth will work hard to ensure that your bail conditions are appropriate, fair and allow you as much freedom as possible.

Once the bail conditions are accepted in court, you will receive a document that outlines your bail conditions in detail.  This way, you will always know what your conditions are.  If you are ever unsure or forget certain conditions, you can refer to this document.  You should carry this document at all times.  It is important to follow all of the bail conditions and this document will make it easier for you to do so.

As you can see, the process by which bail conditions are proposed, negotiated and accepted, allows for your involvement and understanding prior to anything becoming legally binding.  You will be privy to the proposed bail conditions before having to accept them in court.  A good criminal defence lawyer will be sure to review all of the conditions with you.  In doing so, you will be able to comply with your conditions because you will have had the opportunity to discuss them with your lawyer and ensure that you understand them.  Adhering to all of your bail conditions is one way that you can increase your chances of achieving a successful outcome for your case.

Can I Get My Bail Conditions Changed?

Although bail conditions are serious and must be strictly obeyed, it is possible to have them changed. We have had many clients where we have been successful in getting bail conditions changed and it is possible that this could happen in your case.

The first thing to do in the process of trying to get bail conditions changed is for us to meet with our client in private to discuss the case. During this meeting, we will learn the reasons and circumstances for a bail condition change. A number of different things are taken into account when we consider trying to get bail conditions changed, so the particular details of your case as well as your past behaviour and adherence to your bail conditions are very important.

After having a private, one-on-one meeting with our client, we will meet with the Crown Attorney to put forward a strategy and explanation for why the bail conditions should be changed. Sometimes it can be easy to convince the Crown that bail conditions should be changed but other times, the Crown may be unwilling to make changes.

If we believe that we have a strong argument for having the bail conditions changed, we will do all we can to convince the Crown to make the changes. If that fails, we will consider going to court to ask the court to decide on the bail condition change.

The changes that can be made to bail conditions vary on a case by case basis; however some changes are quite common. For example, many of the changes are to allow the individuals more flexibility and more freedom to move forward with work opportunities. Some bail conditions require an individual not to work, or to only work at certain places or for a limited amount of time.

Sometimes there are valid reasons why the individual should have more freedom in their working conditions, and if so, we would propose this as a change to the bail conditions. Also, many individuals on bail desire or need more freedom and flexibility with communication opportunities. Again, most bail conditions stipulate restrictions regarding who the individual can speak with and the methods of communication.

Depending on the particulars of the case, we may be able to have the bail conditions changed so as to allow the individual more freedom in their communication. We often argue that these kinds of changes are often necessary to maintain a normal life.

If you are looking for legal advice regarding bail conditions and are wondering if changes may be made in your case, contact the lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.

What if I Breach My Bail Conditions?

It is important to follow all of the bail conditions that are set once you have been granted bail.  Some of your conditions will be common to most individuals charged with the same criminal offence, and some might be particular to your situation.  Failure to comply with all of your bail conditions has serious consequences.

First, by breaching some or all of the conditions, you risk losing the privilege of being released on bail.  A Judge might order you to appear in Court and revoke your release, thereby placing you once again in police custody.  You may also be charged with additional criminal offences which can exacerbate the defence of your original charges.

Breaching your bail conditions can also reduce your chances of receiving bail if you are charged with another criminal offence in the future.  It can also negatively impact any negotiations your lawyer may enter into with the prosecution.  If you fail to follow all of your bail conditions, the prosecutor and Judge involved with your case will be less likely to exercise leniency.

It is in your favour, regardless of how difficult or unfair your bail conditions may seem, to follow them all and comply with the law.  On rare occasions, individuals accidentally breach their bail conditions or are in a situation where they have no choice but to temporarily break them.

Although these circumstances are rare, they are possible. If you think you are in a situation like this, discuss it promptly with your defence lawyer.  An intentional breach of bail conditions has serious consequences for you and for the success of your criminal case.  It is always best to comply with the conditions laid out by the Judge at the time of your bail hearing in order to assist your lawyer in achieving a positive outcome in your case.

What Happens If I Fail to Attend My Criminal Court Date?

When a Judge orders an individual to appear in Court at a specific date and time, that individual is legally bound to appear.  An individual who intentionally misses their criminal Court date can be charged with a criminal offence.  However, the onus is on the prosecutor to demonstrate that the individual truly intended not to appear in Court.  This means that they must show that the individual was aware of their Court date and chose not to appear.

Generally, it is up to the Judge whether or not he or she accepts a particular excuse for not appearing in Court.  For example, an individual who slept through their Court date would not likely receive much leniency from a Judge, but someone whose children were rushed to the emergency room in a life-threatening situation might be excused.

If you are ever in a situation when you think or know in advance that you will not be able to attend your criminal Court date, discuss this with your lawyer.  If you only realize after the fact that you missed your Court date, contact your lawyer and they will advise you on how to proceed. It is possible that you may still be able to avoid criminal charges.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your failure to appear in Court, it is important that you have a good criminal lawyer who will work on your behalf.

What Should I do If I am Arrested by the Police?

As an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer, I am often asked what someone should do if he or she is arrested by the police in connection with a crime.

If you are ever arrested by the police for a crime like fraud, tax evasion, assault, impaired driving or even homicide, the worst thing you can do is to talk to the police about “what happened”.  Protesting your innocence to the police will not get you anywhere and may make things much more difficult for your criminal defence lawyer.

Instead of trying to talk your way out of the criminal charges, politely but firmly indicate that you would like to speak with a criminal defence lawyer.  You really should not say more than that.  Even small comments can be used by the Crown against you in a trial.

Make the most of your telephone call with a criminal defence lawyer.  Keep in mind that you do not only get one call as they say on television.  If you do not reach your counsel of choice, in many cases you can leave a message for a return call or select another lawyer of your choice to try to call.

During the call, the lawyer will probably not want you to talk about the nitty gritty of your case.  Instead, the criminal defence lawyer will want to explain to you how to cope with the arrest process and what to expect.  The strategy for defending against the charges will be developed after the arrest process is completed and you are either released on bail or moved to the detention centre.

While your arrest is processed, you may be placed in a holding cell.  In Ottawa, most areas of the cell blocks are video taped. In some circumstances there may be audio as well.  Your behaviour during that process will be recorded.  Accordingly, you should be calm, cool and collected.

An arrest for a criminal charge is scary and undesirable.  However, with thoughtful advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer like Richard Auger, the disruption to your life can be minimized.

Have You Been Asked to Be A Surety for Someone Seeking Bail?

If you have asked to be a surety for a friend of loved one who is detained in custody (in jail) following an arrest, you should be asking the following questions:

  • What is a surety?
  • What are a surety’s duties?
  • Does a surety have to deposit money and if so how much?
  • What if the accused person does not comply with the bail order?
  • What if I no longer want to be a surety?
  • Who is eligible to be a surety?
  • Can the accused person’s lawyer give me advice about being a surety?

Read moreHave You Been Asked to Be A Surety for Someone Seeking Bail?

Need to Get Out of Jail on Bail?

The criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth can assist our clients in jail to get released on bail. This is one of the most crucial parts of your defense strategy.

If the Crown Consents to Release You:
Often the Crown Attorney will agree to release you if the crime is not violent, not very serious or the person is not considered a flight risk. If Crown consents, your release is normally within hours.

A person who was arrested without a warrant will normally be released on the agreement of the Crown with a summons, appearance notice or promise to appear.

Other times, release will be conditional on the entering of a “recognizance” in an amount of up to $500.

Undertaking with Conditions
The Crown could also consent to a release based on an undertaking with conditions. For example:

To remain within a certain area;
To deposit a passport;
To notify the police of any change in address or employment;
To attend school (where applicable);
To abstain from communicating with any person or from going to any place;
To abstain from possessing a firearm and to surrender any firearm;
To report to police at specified times;
To abstain from consuming alcohol or other intoxicating substances; and/or
To abstain from taking drugs except in accordance with a medical prescription.
What if the Crown does not agree to release?
The Criminal Code of Canada mandates that someone who is being detained in jail after arrest be brought to court before a Justice of the Peace within 24 hours or as soon as possible. This timeline applies even if the arrest is on the weekend or a holiday. In most jurisdications, Justices of the Peace hold bail hearings on Saturdays and Sundays.

If the Crown doesn’t agree to a release, if the Crown cannot hold a full bail hearing within twenty-four hours, then the Crown may request to postpone the hearing for up to seventy-two hours.

In some circumstances, delaying the hearing makes sense for the person who has been charged. The extra time can permit his or her criminal defence lawyer to assemble a strong case for release and to arrange for sureties.

What is a surety? A surety is someone who consents to be responsible for, and supervise, someone charged with a crime. Sometimes a surety has to put up or promise to pay money to the Court if the charged person fails to obey conditions of release from custody.

Are all Release Plans the Same?
No. Often, the Court’s decision to grant bail or not will depend on how good the decision maker consders the plan of release to be. Important questions to be answered are: does the person have a place to stay, a job to go to, counseling and support as required and appropriate supervision by someone whom the accused person respects. Sometimes, assembling the plan can take time.

Considerations when the Court will consider whether to release someone on bail:
The 3 considerations for the Court at a bail hearing:

Is the detention necessary to ensure the person’s attendance in court?
Is the detention necessary for the protection or safety of the public?
Is there any other just cause requiring detention having regard to all the circumstances, including the apparent strength of the prosecution’s case, the gravity of the nature of the offence, the circumstances surrounding its commission and the potential for a lengthy term of imprisonment?
Who has the Burden at a Bail Hearing?
The Crown normally has the onus to “show cause” why the accused should be held. For some offences, or for people who have a record for failure to attend court, the onus or burden can be on the detained person to “show cause” why he or she should be released.

What if bail is denied?
Hire a criminal defence lawyer to handle your bail hearing before the Justice of the Peace to secure the best possible result, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Bail Review
Where release is denied, a “bail review” can be scheduled before a judge. The same three factors apply, but the judge is not bound by the views of the Justice of the Peace.

Note: If the Justice of the Peace releases the accused person, the Crown can also seek a bail review.

Sometimes it can take several weeks to get a date before a judge where your lawyer, the Crown, the witnesses and a judge are all available. The requirement to obtain (and pay for) the transcript of the initial bail hearing can also contribute to delay.

This can be frustrating and requires patience. You can be assured that Auger Hollingsworth would do everything in its power to move your hearing forward as quickly as possible. However, the possible delay is a strong reason to take your initial bail hearing seriously and hire a lawyer immediately.

Apart from the disruption and anxiety of separation from family and friends and loss of employment, there are strategic reasons to seek bail in many cases. For example:

It is more difficult and costly to meet with your lawyer and to assist in the preparation of your case from the detention centre. Your lawyer is limited as to when he or she can visit you. Telephone access is limited.
If you proceed to trial, you will be seated in the prisoner’s dock if you are in custody. This can have an impact, particularly on a jury.
If you are released on bail for months or more prior to trial, and stay out of trouble while out of custody, you will have a strong argument in any sentencing hearing that a jail sentence is not required and that you are rehabilitated.

If you or a loved one needs help getting out on bail, do not wait. Contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Our Ottawa criminal defence lawyers will handle bail hearings and bail reviews in Ottawa, Smiths Falls, Perth, Cornwall, Hawksbury, L’Orignal, and many other locations. Call 613 233-4529 or email [email protected] today!

Ottawa Lawyers – For a teenager charged with an offence, legal representation is important

If you are in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario or elsewhere in Canada, you should beware that people often think, incorrectly, that criminal findings of guilt before adulthood have no impact once a person becomes an adult. A young person’s record does not cease to exist just because they turn 18, and if they re-offend before the “non-disclosure period” has passed, their record can be used in court.

Read moreOttawa Lawyers – For a teenager charged with an offence, legal representation is important